7 Wallpaper Rules That Take the Risk Out of Redecorating
The most breathtaking statement interiors all have one thing in common: a fierce and confident approach to picking out the perfect wallpaper. While the commitment-phobes among us pepper their homes with small, interchangeable accents, interior design pros know that adorning a wall is the single best way to inject personality.
You needn't be nervous. The latest wave of removable wallpaper makes this once risky redecorating move a synch—yes, even for renters. Before you throw caution to the wind, there are a few expert tips every wallpaper rookie needs to know. We called on Elizabeth Rees, founder of Chasing Paper, and Shelly Lynch-Sparks, head of commercial design at Homepolish, who are launching a wallpaper collaboration with Soludos today, to reveal their top tips. Follow these insider rules to create a statement interior you'll love for years to come.
Rule 1: Size Up the Space
When styled with skill, wallpaper has the power to create an optical illusion. That cramped, dark mudroom can be transformed into an airy, spacious room, while an open-plan studio can become an intimate segmented home.
To choose the best wallpaper print to manipulate the size of your room, follow Shelly Lynch-Sparks's rule of thumb: "Larger prints give space volume, [while] smaller more intricate patterns act as a backdrop and help showcase larger decorative pieces," she explains.
If you're unsure whether a wallpaper swatch will match the image online, Chasing Paper's Elizabeth Rees says to look for interior images shot in a real environment with natural light, rather than superimposed images. "I believe this helps people to conceptualise how the print will look in their own space, [as it's more true to life]," she tells MyDomaine.
Rule 2: Prep the Wall
There are a few must-know rules every rookie should be aware of before applying wallpaper—even the removable variety, says Reese. One of the biggest mistakes she encounters is applying wallpaper days after a wall has been painted. "Paint takes at least two weeks to cure, and in order for the paper to adhere, the wall needs to be totally dry. Otherwise it won't work," she says.
For a perfect, smooth finish, start in the corner of the wall. "I suggest that people start in a corner and peel the paper off the backing, smoothing it to the wall or surface with your hand. If you get a pesky bubble, grab a super-sharp pin to pop it, and then smooth it out," she recommends.
Rule 3: Balance Negative Space
It's important to consider negative space when adding any printed accent to your room. This is especially true with intricate wallpaper, which can make a space look cramped and chaotic if it's not balanced correctly. "Sometimes too much is too much!" says Lynch-Sparks. "I think negative space is so important. It gives the room a place to pause and not take away from some of those statement pieces." Look for wallpaper that incorporates negative space into the print, or add a bold artwork with a white background.
Rule 4: Look Beyond Trends
You'll have to live with the wallpaper you choose day in, day out, so be sure to opt for a print that doesn't just reflect a fleeting trend. When creating their new Soludos x Homepolish x Chasing Paper collection, Rees says they drew inspiration from textiles around the world to create prints that transcend trends. Lynch-Sparks adds, "I always start with prints that I'm drawn to and that inspire me. The colour palette should mimic similarities in your wardrobe or home interiors."
Rule 5: Start Subtly
Nervous about committing to covering an entire wall? Start small, says Lynch-Sparks. "Bookshelves, serving trays, picture frames, and a kitchen island" can all be easily transformed with wallpaper, making them the perfect first step for commitment-phobes. Fashion blogger Emily Jackson added a hint of maroon with this geometric Kelly Wearstler wallpaper, which she applied to the back of glass-paneled kitchen cabinets.
Rule 6: Layer Patterned Accents
To integrate the new statement wall into your existing space, layer accessories that adhere to the same colour palette but introduce different prints. "The accessories in a room are the final layer that make everything speak to each other," says Lynch-Sparks. "Use the same geometry and base colour scheme in pattern styles. Everything flows as long as your foundation pieces (larger furniture, couch, bed) do not compete."
Rule 7: Consider Visibility
Colour and prints don't live in isolation—they influence the look and feel of the space around them. When planning which area to wallpaper, consider visibility from adjoining rooms and how that might change the décor in that space, too. "It's important to think about a space's function first before you add a decorative element like wallpaper," she says. Apply a sample swatch and see how it looks from different vantage points like the doorway, staircase, or corner of the room to make sure it's the perfect match.